Memory Hole

I really am sick and tired of conservatives calling for the fainting couches over stuff happening under Obama which they actively defended when Bush was in office.

Seriously, I’m super busy today, guys? So look, if you want to know what I think about all of this NSA spying crap everyone is acting like is some new thing? Just click on the little tags and categories thingies below? Because I’ve been talking about this since I started blogging, which was like six years ago. It was bad under Bush, it’s bad under Obama, but no one wanted to listen to any of us hippies on the left (and some on the right) who were crying “civil liberties! civil liberties!” back in the day. So stop your fucking whining and Obama blaming now.

Here’s a nice little trip into the memory hole for y’all:

U.S. President George Bush called on Congress Monday night to broaden protection for telecommunications carriers that helped the government monitor phone calls and e-mail.

The Protect America Act, which allows the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) to intercept phone calls and e-mails of suspected terrorists without first obtaining a court warrant, is due to expire Friday and Bush called for its extension as part of his final State of the Union address.

“To protect America, we need to know who the terrorists are talking to, what they are saying, and what they are planning,” he said in the televised address. “Last year, Congress passed legislation to help us do that. Unfortunately, Congress set the legislation to expire on Feb.1. This means that if you do not act by Friday, our ability to track terrorist threats would be weakened and our citizens will be in greater danger. Congress must ensure the flow of vital intelligence is not disrupted.”

Failure to extend the legislation won’t just hit the NSA. The telecommunications carriers that worked with the agency despite the lack of court warrants also face privacy lawsuits and an extension to the legislation would provide them legal protection. Bush touched on that point as well.

“Congress must pass liability protection for companies believed to have assisted in the efforts to defend America. We’ve had ample time for debate. The time to act is now,” said Bush to applause from mostly Republican members of the audience. Vice President Dick Cheney, seated behind Bush, also applauded the call.

Cheney and the White House last week pushed Congress to extend the act and provide protection for telecom carriers. AT&T and other carriers are facing lawsuits in San Francisco by civil liberties groups and individuals who allege that the surveillance program is illegal.

Earlier Monday, efforts by Republicans to curtail debate in the U.S. Senate and force a vote on an extension to the act failed, and debate is due to resume Tuesday.

Got that? This isn’t some new thing under Obama, it’s something we’ve been talking about for about 10, 11, 12 years now. Since 9/11 at the least. And by the way, that article above is from January 29, 2008. Not only did they want the NSA wiretapping without warrants to continue, the Republicans in the Senate tried to ram it through and were thwarted thanks to the Democrats. As I wrote at the time:

I’m sure the Republicans will be up to their usual screetching about terrorists, but we all know this has nothing to do with terrorism and everything to do with protecting corporate cronies at Big Telecom. Liberals refer to it as telecom immunity, neocons as “liability protection,” but it all comes down to protecting AT&T and Verizon Wireless from scores of lawsuits because they knowingly broke the law.

Please. Y’all are getting on my last nerve with this IOKIYAR shit. Knock it off. We’re not that stupid.


Filed under corporations, FISA, FISA. telecom immunity, NSA, telecom, telecom immunity, War On Terror, warrantless surveillance

4 responses to “Memory Hole

  1. SB,

    You are correct that anyone who supported the Patriot Act has no right to criticize the Obama Administration on this issue. It is unfair, however, to suggest that all the opposition to the Patriot Act came from the Democrats or that there was not considerable support from Democrats for the law. Many libertarian-leaning Republicans opposed the expansion of the national security state.

    The legitimate criticism of President Obama is not about the policy but rather his personal hypocrisy on the issue. As a Senator and a candidate for President he was unrelenting in his opposition to Bush security policies. Along with his opposition to the war in Iraq, it helped him to draw a clear distinction between himself and Senator Clinton whom he portrayed as too establishment.

    I don’t think he should change the policy to placate critics. But I do think that now that these revelations are public, he owes President Bush and other leaders whom he criticized a large apology for exploiting their work for political gain and then doing exactly the same thing.

    If Republicans who supported the Patriot Act have no room to criticize President Obama, he and his defenders must retract their criticism of the people whom they attacked for doing the same things.

    • It is unfair, however, to suggest …

      That’s not an accurate portrayal of my words. I did say that there were “some on the right” who were concerned with civil liberties. But the facts are the facts, Mark. The majority of Republicans tried to ram this through, you had Bush and Cheney and the rest all pushing for this. There may have been a handful of Democrats joining them — Lieberman, who wasn’t really a Democrat at this point, he was a member of the Lieberman Party.

      And as for Obama owing Bush and the rest an apology because he’s doing what he criticized them for, maybe. Maybe. But one of his biggest criticisms of the Bush policy was their bypassing the FISA process and bypassing Congress. What Obama has done isn’t exactly the same thing.


      Obama stressed that every member of Congress had been briefed on the phone monitoring program and that the relevant Intelligence committees were aware of PRISM — the system by which the NSA accessed internet traffic. He also noted that federal judges had to sign off on data gathering requests.


      On the phone data collection, Obama stressed that the government agency was only “looking at phone numbers and durations of calls, they’re not looking at people.” He said that to listen in on calls, investigators would need to obtain new authorization from a federal court.

      “I want to be very clear: Some of the hype that we’ve been hearing over the last day or so, nobody’s listening to the content of people’s phone calls,” Obama said.

      As opposed to what happened under Bush:

      WASHINGTON (CNN) — Congress is looking into allegations that National Security Agency linguists have been eavesdropping on Americans abroad.

      The congressional oversight committees said Thursday that the Americans targeted included military officers in Iraq who called friends and family in the United States.

      The allegations were made by two former military intercept operators on a television news report Thursday evening.

      A terrorist surveillance program instituted by the Bush administration allows the intelligence community to monitor phone calls between the United States and overseas without a court order — as long as one party to the call is a terror suspect.

      Adrienne Kinne, a former U.S. Army Reserves Arab linguist, told ABC News the NSA was listening to the phone calls of U.S. military officers, journalists and aid workers overseas who were talking about “personal, private things with Americans who are not in any way, shape or form associated with anything to do with terrorism.”

      David Murfee Faulk, a former U.S. Navy Arab linguist, said in the news report that he and his colleagues were listening to the conversations of military officers in Iraq who were talking with their spouses or girlfriends in the United States.

      According to Faulk, they would often share the contents of some of the more salacious calls stored on their computers, listening to what he called “phone sex” and “pillow talk.”

      I think what we have here is a situation where screaming and hollering from the right has the potential to confuse the American people (and our inept media and it’s “squirrel!” mentality) by obfuscating what’s really going on now and what actually happened in the past.

      And if you want hypocrisy, the idea that conservatives defended the Bush Administration for doing without a warrant or any judicial oversight what the Obama Administration has done with judicial oversight is pretty ballsy.

    • GregH

      We need very clear “Datenschutz” like they have in Germany. It spells out in minute detail what personal data the government may collect about the people, how they may use it, how long they can keep it, how it has to be handled, etc. Filing an FOIA request to see your FBI file just doesn’t cut it in this day and age.